Power out for more than a million in Louisiana as weakened Ida moves through Mississippi

NBC News

Power out for more than a million in Louisiana as weakened Ida moves through Mississippi

Late Monday, two people were killed and 10 were injured after a 50-foot stretch of highway collapsed in George County, Mississippi.

By Rachel Elbaum and Eric Ortiz       August 31, 2021 

Video: blob:https://www.nbcnews.com/790fde02-2a33-45f3-b5e2-c27ef4e53807

More than a million homes and businesses remained without power Tuesday after Hurricane Ida tore through Louisiana and Mississippi, bringing with it floods, destruction and the deaths of at least four people.

The powerful storm, now a tropical depression threatening to produce flash flooding and tornadoes across the South and Mid-Atlantic, was one of the strongest hurricanes ever to make landfall in the region. While New Orleans was largely spared the catastrophic flooding that officials had feared, some communities across southern Louisiana remained cut off by water and blocked roadways, complicating rescue efforts as crews scramble to clear debris and begin the weekslong task of restoring electricity.

Louisiana Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, who planned to fly out to some of the harder hit areas on Tuesday with Gov. John Bel Edwards, said that the number of deaths could rise.

“Knowing that so many people stayed behind in places like Grand Isle and Lafitte, where flood waters have devastated those areas, we expect there will be more people found that have passed,” he said on NBC’s “TODAY” show.

“Too many people always ride these storms out and take their lives into their hands,” he added.

The latest on Ida:

Late Monday, two people were killed and 10 were injured after a 50-foot stretch of highway collapsed in George County, Mississippi, an area that had torrential rains in the past 24 hours. Three of the injured were critical, according to Mississippi Highway Patrol Trooper Calvin Robertson. Authorities have not identified the two people who died.

Earlier in the day, at least two deaths in Louisiana were linked to the storm: a 60-year-old man who died in Ascension Parish when a tree fell on his home, and a man who drowned after driving through a flooded road, authorities said.

Image: Emergency crews at the scene of a road collapse in George County, Mississippi where at least two people were killed late Monday.
Emergency crews at the scene of a road collapse in George County, Mississippi, where at least two people were killed late Monday. Mississippi Highway Patrol


Another 71-year-old Louisiana man was presumed dead after being attacked by an alligator on Monday in an area that flooded during Hurricane Ida, the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office said. A woman in Slidell said her husband was walking in floodwaters around noon when he was attacked by the large alligator, the sheriff’s office said.

She said she pulled him to safety and then went to get help in a boat, but when she returned, he was not on the front steps.

The weather system made its way to northern Mississippi early Tuesday, bringing with it heavy rains and the threat of floods from the Gulf Coast to the Tennessee and Ohio valleys and into the Mid-Atlantic on Wednesday, according to the National Hurricane Center. More than 71 million people are under flash flood watches from the Gulf Coast to the Northeast.

August 31, 2021

The hurricane center also warned of the threat of tornadoes across eastern Alabama, western Georgia and the Florida Panhandle. As the remnants of Ida move farther north, major East Coast cities, including Washington, Philadelphia and New York, are expected to receive heavy rainfall and the threat of flash flooding Wednesday and Thursday.

Ida made landfall as a Category 4 storm on Sunday, with howling 150 mph winds on the same date that the devastating Hurricane Katrina struck 16 years earlier.

More than 1 million homes and businesses in Louisiana remained without power for a second day on Tuesday. Entergy, one of the region’s main power utilities, tweeted Monday that it “will likely take days to determine the extent of damage to our power grid … and far longer to restore electrical transmission to the region.”

Officials at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport said that there would be no flights in or out of the city on Tuesday, and there were about 200 canceled flights.

Utility crews were working around the clock to restore power. Nungesser said that some areas will come back on in days, while others will take weeks to get back on the grid.

“The good news is that Louisiana helps our neighbors out,” he said on “TODAY.” “With Covid on top of this, the stress on families is incredible. It’s going to be a long road and we’re going to need a lot of help.”

On Monday, dozens of rescue missions were launched across southern Louisiana to evacuate people stranded in their homes. Operations to answer the hundreds of rescue calls were hampered by inoperable 911 lines, now restored, and poor cellphone service reported throughout southeastern Louisiana.

The Louisiana National Guard activated 4,900 Guard personnel and was positioned to send nearly 200 high-water vehicles and more than 70 rescue boats and 30 helicopters. By Monday afternoon, nearly 200 people and their pets had been rescued after crews checked about 400 homes, Edwards said at a news conference.

Image: A Louisiana National Guard truck assists people in Laplace, Louisiana on Monday after Hurricane Ida came ashore.
A Louisiana National Guard truck assists people in Laplace, Louisiana on Monday after Hurricane Ida came ashore.Patrick T. Fallon / AFP – Getty Images


New Orleans did not experience the same level of devastation that was caused by Katrina, the 2005 storm that breached the city’s levees and led to some 1,800 deaths.

Mayor LaToya Cantrell tweeted Monday that the system of levees, which was built and designed after Katrina, “held the line” against the storm surge and the “worst case scenario did not happen.”

The new levee system “performed exceptionally well,” Chip Kline, the chairman of the state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, told NOLA.com. “The system’s first real test, and it did exceptionally well.”

Louisiana residents who stayed in the area throughout the storm woke up Monday to scenes of destruction. Theophilus Charles, 70, lost the home in Houma his grandmother built to Ida.

“I ain’t got a dry spot in the house. My roof fell. I lost all my clothes, my furniture, my appliances, everything,” he told Reuters.

“I lost everything that I had. I mean I lost everything. And nothing I can do with this, ain’t no repair, you know,” Charles said.

Louisiana’s medical system, already stretched to capacity by the Covid-19 crisis, was another major cause for concern both before and after the storm hit. Four hospitals have evacuated patients, while many others are surveying damage to their buildings.

Dr. Mark Kline, physician-in-chief of Children’s Hospital New Orleans, said Tuesday that the facility was running on six generators dedicated to patient care, while nonessential areas where being left in the dark.

“The best thing I can tell you is that all of the children remained safe and sound inside the hospital throughout the hurricane, and so things are going well for our patients,” Kline said on MSNBC.

The hospital had some flooding on the ground floor as well as water leaking through the roof. Kline said that he, along with much of the hospital’s staff, have yet to go home to survey the damage to their own properties.

Experts are also concerned that the Louisiana’s high levels of circulating coronavirus, coupled with the low vaccination rates and the forced close proximity that occurs during a storm, could set the stage for an explosion of Covid-19 cases.

These Images Show Just How Bad Hurricane Ida Hit Louisiana’s Coastline

NPR – Weather

These Images Show Just How Bad Hurricane Ida Hit Louisiana’s Coastline


Jeremy Hodges climbs up the side of his family’s destroyed storage unit on Monday, in Houma, La., which sits just along the coast of Louisiana. David J. Phillip/AP

Hurricane Ida’s fierce Category 4 winds and torrential rain left the Louisiana coastline badly beaten.

Images of the affected areas days after the storm show crushed homes, debris scattered across streets and flooded neighborhoods.

As cleanup is underway, officials are warning residents who evacuated not to return to their homes just yet because of the severe damage.

A man checks a broken gas pipe with a firefighter on Monday after Hurricane Ida tore through Bourg, La. Nick Wagner/Xinhua News Agency via Getty Images

When the storm made landfall, its winds were as high as 150 mph and tore roofs from homes and ripped trees from their roots. It was eventually downgraded to a tropical depression by Monday as it moved across Mississippi.

Hurricane Ida hit New Orleans on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, the costliest storm on record in U.S. history. Katrina, which caused massive damage to New Orleans, was a Category 3 storm when it hit. Though a weaker storm (winds during Hurricane Katrina reached 125 mph), it was larger in size than Hurricane Ida, which experts say is why Katrina caused so much damage.

Thomas James Hand comforts Alzile Marie Hand, whose house in Houma, La., was seriously damaged by Hurricane Ida over the weekend. Go Nakamura/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The winds knocked out power in New Orleans, including, temporarily, the city’s 911 emergency response system, and in surrounding areas. More than 1 million residents were still without power by early Tuesday. It’s unclear when power will be restored to most residents, but officials believe it may last more than a month for some people.

A resident carries a dog through floodwaters left behind by Hurricane Ida, on Monday in LaPlace, La. The storm, wielding some of the most powerful winds ever to hit the state, drove a wall of water inland on Sunday. Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Hurricane Ida has been blamed for the death of at least two people as of Monday, according to Louisiana’s Department of Health. One man drowned after he attempted to drive his car through floodwaters in New Orleans. The other victim was found Sunday night after being hit by a fallen tree.

Gov. John Bel Edwards said he expects the number of fatalities to increase as recovery efforts continue.

A National Guard vehicle drives through flooded LaPlace, La., on Monday. Emergency and first responder teams, including the U.S. Coast Guard and National Guard, continue operations on Tuesday. Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden approved Louisiana’s request for a major disaster declaration on Sunday, allowing federal funding to reach residents and business owners.

Emergency and first responder teams, including the U.S. Coast Guard and National Guard, continued operations on Tuesday. Search and rescue teams from more than 15 states are conducting operations in hard-hit areas, according to Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The U.S. Coast Guard conducts flyovers near Galliano, La., and elsewhere in the state to assess damages and identify hazards.

U.S. Coast Guard Heartland

FEMA also reminded residents to be cautious of news shared on social media being attributed to the agency.

Its website warned residents about false rumors being shared on online alleging the agency is paying for hotels for people who evacuated because of the storm. The agency said people must first apply for FEMA assistance online before receiving aid.

Marquita Jenkins stands in the ruins of her mother’s Be Love hair salon, which was destroyed by Hurricane Ida whose eastern wall went right over LaPlace. Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Officials continue to remind Louisianans that bouncing back from Ida’s destruction is a marathon — not a sprint.

In New Orleans, the city put out a call for hot and nonperishable meals, generators and charging stations and offered options for those interested in donating to assist residents.

First responders prepare to launch rescue boats to transport residents out of flooded areas of LaPlace, La., on Monday. Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Hurricane Ida Slams Native Communities in Louisiana as New Orleans Loses Electricity & COVID Rages

Democracy Now

Hurricane Ida Slams Native Communities in Louisiana as New Orleans Loses Electricity & COVID Rages

Story – August 30, 2021


Hurricane Ida has completely knocked out power to the city of New Orleans and reversed the flow of the Mississippi River after it hit southern Louisiana and Mississippi, flooding the area with storm surges. The Category 4 storm hit on the same date Hurricane Katrina devastated the area 16 years earlier. “This is a storm like no other,” says Monique Verdin, a citizen of the United Houma Nation and part of the grassroots collaborative Another Gulf Is Possible. “This is a part of South Louisiana that is losing land at one of the fastest rates,” Verdin notes. She also discusses how the storm hit the area as “Delta has been raging in the Mississippi River Delta.”

Thomas James Hand comforts Alzile Marie Hand, whose house in Houma, La., was seriously damaged by Hurricane Ida over the weekend. Go Nakamura/The Washington Post via Getty Images

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.


AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman.

Hurricane Ida, one of the most powerful storms ever to hit the United States, roared ashore Sunday in southern Louisiana in an area dominated by the oil industry that’s also home to many Native communities. The storm brought a seven-foot storm surge, 150-mile-per-hour winds and up to two feet of rain to parts of the Gulf Coast. It was so powerful, it completely knocked out power to a million people, including the entire city of New Orleans, and reversed the flow of the Mississippi River. The Category 4 storm hit on the same day Hurricane Katrina devastated the area 16 years ago. It’s been blamed for at least one death, and more are expected.

A system of dikes and levees that protects the New Orleans region from rising waters is reportedly holding, for now, much of it built since Katrina. But still, it is underfunded, and officials say they could be overwhelmed by a forecasted 20 inches of rain.

Louisiana’s Gulf Coast is a major oil and gas hub, with 17 oil refineries, two liquefied natural gas export terminals, a nuclear power plant and many Superfund sites. Hurricane Ida made landfall near Port Fourchon, the oilfield service hub for almost all of the Gulf of Mexico and not far from the city of Houma.

In a minute, we’ll be joined by Monique Verdin, a citizen of the United Houma Nation, who just evacuated — the Houma Nation, one of the largest Native American tribes in North America. First, this is a trailer, though, for a documentary Verdin co-produced in 2012 called My Louisiana Love.

MONIQUE VERDIN: Our people have survived the natural cycle of floods and storms for centuries.

NARRATOR: In the bayous and swamps of Southeast Louisiana, filmmaker Monique Verdin explores her Native Houma roots.

MONIQUE VERDIN: I want to keep living on our land, but I’m inheriting a dying delta. Our love ties us to this place and makes us feel responsible to care for it.

NARRATOR: As Monique discovers, they’re battling their deadliest storm yet: the explosive growth of the oil and gas companies in the area.

DELTA RESIDENT: You see, the more gas and oil you got underneath your ground, the higher you’re going to sit. The more they’re going to pump, the lower your land is going to go.

CLARICE FRILOUX: We’ve been treated bad throughout the years, but this could destroy our tribe as a whole.

AMY GOODMAN: The trailer for the PBS documentary My Louisiana Love, co-produced by our guest, Monique Verdin, a citizen of the United Houma Nation. She has evacuated for Hurricane Ida. She’s also part of the collaborative Another Gulf Is Possible, which is now organizing mutual aid efforts to provide essential needs, repairs, supplies to the areas hit by Hurricane Ida.

Monique, thanks so much for joining us. I know this is a very difficult time. Can you explain the extent of the devastation that you’re hearing about, not only in Houma, but all over the area — a million people without power, all of New Orleans in the dark, people reporting they’re up to their chest in water?

MONIQUE VERDIN: Well, Amy, we’re really just starting to hear from folks. I know that many have just completely lost their homes. Many of our fishermen rode out the storm on their boats. We haven’t heard from a number of them. And there’s still — you know, everyone was waiting for the sun to come up, and that’s just happening. So, we’re not really sure, but we do know that there’s extreme flooding happening just to the west of the city. And all of those communities, all of the bayou communities, where the United Houma Nation, but also the Atakapa-Ishak of Grand Bayou and Plaquemines Parish, the Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe, the Biloxi-Chitimacha Confederation of Muskogee, Bands of Grand Caillou and Dulac, and the Isle de Jean Charles — you know, these are communities that often get left out of the news and have been weathering storms for many years. But this is a storm like no other.

AMY GOODMAN: So, talk about that. And talk about Houma. Talk about your community. And was a complete evacuation done of the Houma Nation?

MONIQUE VERDIN: No. The Houma are not ones to run from a storm. You know, we have boats and lands to take care of. And so, many people usually stay. More people evacuated this time than ever before. And we’ve all been scattered to the wind. Everyone went to whichever direction that they could, if they could. And many just went from the low-lying areas, that are just inside risk reduction levee systems, to higher grounds.

But they, too, you know, have — everyone is exhausted from just riding out the storm and the relentless wind and rains, that I’m hearing has been a very humbling experience. But we know that the disaster is only beginning to unfold. Hurricane Katrina really taught us that. Yes, the storm comes through, but the disaster keeps going for many years to come. And decisions get made in these moments, when people are completely disoriented and just trying to figure out how to get home. And at this moment, and knowing that all of Southeast Louisiana is out of power, when we get home and how we get home is a big question.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about your family members who did not evacuate? Are you able to even be in contact with them? I mean, being in the dark is more than the actual darkness of the night, of course, as, as you said, people cannot communicate. Much of the rescue efforts can’t even start until today in daylight.

MONIQUE VERDIN: Yes. I have not spoken to very many. Social media is spotty, and I’m getting reports that cell service is also very spotty or nonexistent. I did get a text message in the middle of the night from a cousin saying that he didn’t think that he could get out of his home without a chainsaw, and also has — having no communication, so trying to be there for folks. But, you know, this is — everyone’s been kind of in shock. And now no one has power. No one has cell service. So, communication is going to be key.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the community that your relatives live in, called Big Woods, where there’s a waste pit in the flood areas? What does this mean? And we’re talking about scores of toxic sites that are directly in the hurricane’s path.

MONIQUE VERDIN: Yes. So, in the Yakni Chitto — it’s the “Big Country” between the Atchafalaya and Mississippi Rivers, where the majority of the Houma Nation still reside, at the ends of the bayous — this is a part of South Louisiana that is losing land at one of the fastest rates. And just to say to the audience, Louisiana is losing land at one of the fastest rates on the planet. The statistic is, every 100 minutes, a football field disappears from our shores. Of course, that’s a calculation divided over time, multiplied by disaster. So, you know, this is what we’re up against just in general.

And where these waste pits are, which are taking offshore oil and gas waste and “treating” it in these open-air pits, is just north of some of the fastest-deteriorating land on the planet and just south of what is the Houma Navigation Canal, which is a man-made canal. And this pit — these pits have been there for a very long time. And with every storm, this low-lying area, because of all of the levee infrastructure, too, that has been added since Hurricane Katrina, water goes towards the path of least resistance. And Grand Bois is left out of that levee system in a big way.

So, I haven’t gotten any reports from family in Grand Bois yet. I’m hoping to hear something today. The last photo I saw was a picture of my cousin’s house that was just completely flattened. So, what the water is like there, I’m not sure. Overnight, that’s when, you know, the surge just keeps — it had been pushing up against the levees all day. So —

AMY GOODMAN: And can you talk about climate change crashing into COVID? I mean, the reports on the South — Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Florida — you have oxygen running out in hospitals, where the patients who are dying are younger and younger. What does this mean at this time of the hurricane?

MONIQUE VERDIN: Delta has been raging in the Mississippi River Delta. Our hospitals have already been at capacity for weeks now. I read a report that one of the hospitals in Thibodaux actually — their generators, they lost power for a while and were having to manually pump oxygen into people who were in ICU and on ventilators that were not hooked up to the electrical system.

And it’s going to get really hot and humid, so wearing a mask is not ideal, and people are with each other and in each other’s homes at this time of evacuation and in the times of the disaster aftermath. You know, community is what gets you through this. And being in a time when we’re supposed to be social distancing and not being in the same space is really hard, especially when you’re going to start needing to rip out your walls and pull out your floors or, yeah, try to salvage what you have left.

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U.S. ends 20-year war in Afghanistan with final evacuation flights out of Kabul

CNBC – Politics

U.S. ends 20-year war in Afghanistan with final evacuation flights out of Kabul

Amanda Macias                            August 30, 2021
  • The United States has finished its evacuation efforts from Kabul’s airport, the Pentagon said Monday, effectively ending America’s longest war.
  • The last C-17 military cargo aircraft departed Hamid Karzai International Airport on Monday afternoon Eastern time.
  • Marine Corps General Kenneth McKenzie, commander of U.S. Central Command, said there were no Americans on the last five flights out of Kabul.
  • President Joe Biden said he would address the nation Tuesday afternoon.
A US Air Force aircraft takes off from the airport in Kabul on August 30, 2021.
A US Air Force aircraft takes off from the airport in Kabul on August 30, 2021. Aamir Qureshi | AFP | Getty Images


WASHINGTON — America’s longest war is over.

The United States finished its withdrawal efforts from the airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, the Pentagon said Monday, effectively ending a two-decade conflict that began not long after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

After the Pentagon’s announcement, President Joe Biden, in a statement Monday evening, thanked the American military and said he would address the nation Tuesday afternoon about his decision not to prolong the U.S. mission in Afghanistan beyond Aug. 31.

“The past 17 days have seen our troops execute the largest airlift in U.S. history, evacuating over 120,000 U.S. citizens, citizens of our allies, and Afghan allies of the United States,” the president said in the statement.

“They have done it with unmatched courage, professionalism, and resolve. Now, our 20-year military presence in Afghanistan has ended.”

In the final week of the withdrawal, terrorists from the group ISIS-K killed 13 U.S. service members and dozens of Afghans in an attack outside the airport. U.S. forces retaliated and launched strikes in a bid to thwart other attacks.

The last C-17 military cargo aircraft departed Hamid Karzai International Airport on Monday afternoon Eastern time, according to U.S. Marine Corps General Kenneth McKenzie, commander of U.S. Central Command, completing a massive evacuation effort that flew more than 116,000 people out of Afghanistan over the past two weeks.

McKenzie, who oversees U.S. military operations in the region, said the Taliban did not have direct knowledge of the U.S. military’s time of departure, adding that commanders on the ground “chose to keep that information very restricted.”

“But they were actually very helpful and useful to us as we closed down operations,” McKenzie said of the Taliban.

McKenzie said there were no Americans on the last five flights out of Kabul.

“We were not able to bring any Americans out; that activity probably ended about 12 hours before our exit. Although we continue the outreach and would have been prepared to bring them on until the very last minute, but none of them made it to the airport,” McKenzie said.

The four-star general added that there were no evacuees left at the airfield when the last C-17 took off and confirmed that all U.S. service members and troops from the Afghan military force along with their families were also airlifted out on Monday.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said later on Monday that fewer than 200 Americans are still seeking evacuation.

“Our commitment to them and to all Americans in Afghanistan and everywhere in the world continues. The protection and welfare of Americans abroad remains the State Department’s most vital and enduring mission,” the nation’s top diplomat said in an evening address.

As of early Monday, U.S. and allied forces evacuated 1,200 people out of the Afghan capital on 26 military cargo aircraft flights in a 24-hour period, according to the latest figures from the White House.

About 122,800 people have been evacuated since the end of July, including about 6,000 U.S. citizens and their families.

“A new chapter of America’s engagement with Afghanistan has begun. It’s one in which we will lead with our diplomacy. The military mission is over. A new diplomatic mission has begun,” Blinken said.

Blinken added that the U.S. had suspended its diplomatic presence in Kabul and will transfer those operations to Doha, Qatar.

“We will remain vigilant in monitoring threats ourselves and will maintain robust counterterrorism capabilities in the region to neutralize those threats if necessary — as we demonstrated in the past few days by striking ISIS facilitators and even threats in Afghanistan, and as we do in places around the world where we do not have military forces on the ground,” Blinken said.

The Taliban return to power
Taliban fighters patrol in Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood in the city of Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021.
Taliban fighters patrol in Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood in the city of Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021.
Rahmat Gul | AP


The U.S. began its war in Afghanistan in October 2001, weeks after the attacks of Sept. 11. The Taliban at the time provided sanctuary to al-Qaeda, the group that planned and carried out the devastating terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Since then, about 2,500 U.S. service members have died in the conflict, which also claimed the lives of more than 100,000 Afghan troops, police personnel and civilians.

Now the Taliban are yet again in power.

In the final weeks of a planned exodus of foreign forces from Afghanistan, the Taliban carried out a succession of shocking battlefield gains.

The Taliban seized Bagram Air Base, a sprawling and once-stalwart U.S. military installation, less than two months after U.S. commanders transferred it to the Afghan National Security and Defense Force.

In 2012, at its peak, Bagram saw more than 100,000 U.S. troops pass through. It was the largest U.S. military installation in Afghanistan.

As the Taliban moved closer to the capital, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, and Western nations rushed to evacuate embassies amid a deteriorating security situation.

Biden ordered the deployment of thousands of U.S. troops to Kabul to help evacuate U.S. Embassy staff and secure the perimeter of the airport.

Meanwhile, thousands of Afghans swarmed the tarmac at the airport desperate to flee Taliban rule.

Despite being vastly outnumbered by the Afghan military, which has long been assisted by U.S. and NATO coalition forces, the Taliban seized the presidential palace in Kabul on Aug. 15.

In April, Biden ordered the full withdrawal of approximately 3,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11. He later gave an updated timeline saying the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan will end by Aug. 31.

Following the Taliban takeover, Biden defended his decision that the U.S. would depart the war-torn country.

“I stand squarely behind my decision. After 20 years I’ve learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw U.S. forces,” Biden said a day after Afghanistan collapsed to the Taliban.

“American troops cannot and should not be fighting in a war and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves,” Biden said. “We gave them every chance to determine their own future. We could not provide them with the will to fight for that future,” he added.

Final U.S. casualties of Afghan war
In this image provided by the U.S. Air Force, flag-draped transfer cases line the inside of a transport plane Sunday before a dignified transfer at Dover Air Force Base, Del. The fallen service members were killed while supporting evacuations in Kabul, Afghanistan.
In this image provided by the U.S. Air Force, flag-draped transfer cases line the inside of a transport plane Sunday before a dignified transfer at Dover Air Force Base, Del. The fallen service members were killed while supporting evacuations in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Jason Minto | U.S. Air Force


The Pentagon on Saturday released the names of the 13 U.S. service members killed after a suicide bomber detonated an explosive near the gates of Kabul’s airport.

The Aug. 26 attack, which killed 11 Marines, one Navy sailor and one Army soldier, is under investigation.

On Sunday, the president and first lady Jill Biden traveled to Dover Air Force Base to meet privately with the families of the fallen before observing the dignified transfer of American flag-draped caskets from a C-17 military cargo plane to a vehicle.

A dignified transfer is a solemn process in which the remains of fallen service members are carried from an aircraft to a waiting vehicle. It is conducted for every U.S. service member killed in action.

The remains of the service members were flown from Kabul to Kuwait and then to Germany before arriving at Dover.

Sunday marked the first time Biden has attended a dignified transfer since he became president.

US President Joe Biden attends the dignified transfer of the remains of a fallen service member at Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Delaware, August, 29, 2021.
US President Joe Biden attends the dignified transfer of the remains of a fallen service member at Dover Air Force Base in Dover, Delaware, August, 29, 2021. Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images


Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley also attended the dignified transfer, along with U.S. Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger, U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michael Gilday and U.S. Air Force Col. Chip Hollinger, who oversaw the military logistics of the transfer.

The fallen include:

Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Darin T. Hoover, 31, of Salt Lake City, Utah

Marine Corps Sgt. Johanny Rosariopichardo, 25, of Lawrence, Massachusetts

Marine Corps Sgt. Nicole L. Gee, 23, of Sacramento, California

Marine Corps Cpl. Hunter Lopez, 22, of Indio, California

Marine Corps Cpl. Daegan W. Page, 23, of Omaha, Nebraska

Marine Corps Cpl. Humberto A. Sanchez, 22, of Logansport, Indiana

Marine Corps Lance Cpl. David L. Espinoza, 20, of Rio Bravo, Texas

Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jared M. Schmitz, 20, of St. Charles, Missouri

Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Rylee J. McCollum, 20, of Jackson, Wyoming

Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Dylan R. Merola, 20, of Rancho Cucamonga, California

Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Kareem M. Nikoui, 20, of Norco, California

Navy Hospitalman Maxton W. Soviak, 22, of Berlin Heights, Ohio

Army Staff Sgt. Ryan C. Knauss, 23, of Corryton, Tennessee.

Caldor Fire: South Lake Tahoe now under evacuation warning as crews struggle to slow blaze

Caldor Fire: South Lake Tahoe now under evacuation warning as crews struggle to slow blaze


After firefighters caught a break with favorable weather Saturday, fire officials ordered more evacuations around the Tahoe Basin Sunday evening as crews dealt with a two-week-old blaze they said was “more aggressive than anticipated,” and continued to edge toward the pristine waters of Lake Tahoe.

“Today’s been a rough day and there’s no bones about it,” said Jeff Marsoleis, forest supervisor for El Dorado National Forest. A few days ago, he thought crews could halt the Caldor Fire’s eastern progress, but “today it let loose.”

Flames churned through mountains just a few miles southwest of the Tahoe Basin, where thick smoke sent tourists packing at a time when summer vacations would usually be in full swing ahead of the Labor Day weekend.

“To put it in perspective, we’ve been seeing about a half-mile of movement on the fire’s perimeter each day for the last couple of weeks, and today, this has already moved at 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) on us, with no sign that it’s starting to slow down,” said Cal Fire Division Chief Eric Schwab.

Some areas of the Northern California terrain are so rugged that crews had to carry fire hoses by hand from Highway 50 as they sought to douse spot fires caused by erratic winds.

The forecast did not offer optimism: triple-digit temperatures were possible and the extreme heat was expected to last several days. A red flag warning for critical fire conditions was issued for Monday and Tuesday across the Northern Sierra.

The blaze that broke out August 14 was 19% contained after burning nearly 245 square miles (635 square kilometers) — an area larger than Chicago. More than 600 structures have been destroyed and at least 18,000 more were under threat.

The Caldor Fire has proved so difficult to fight that fire managers pushed back the projected date for full containment from early this week to Sept. 8. But even that estimate was tenuous.

Flames churned through mountains just a few miles southwest of the Tahoe Basin, where thick smoke sent tourists packing at a time when summer vacations would be in full swing ahead of the Labor Day weekend. Instead, souvenir shops and restaurants closed.

Smoke has choked the region’s skies ever since the fire started Aug. 14. On Thursday, evacuation warnings were issued for the nearby communities in Christmas Valley – the first such warnings in the Lake Tahoe Basin since 2007.

On Friday, a day after tourism officials asked people to avoid South Lake Tahoe – which abuts the Nevada border – any remaining tourists stayed inside and away from the smoke.

“Being closer to the state line, it’s all just pure tourism with everyone coming up here for casinos,” said Breeana Cody, an employee at McP’s Taphouse Grill. “But everything is pretty vacant right now.”

Cody said it’s been smoky for days on end. Ash has blanketed the area too.

“September until the end of the year is pretty good, but Labor Day weekend is really our big hurrah,” Cody said.

With fewer customers, deciding who should work and when with less revenue coming in has also been a delicate balance for businesses in the area.

McP's Taphouse Grill employee Breeana Cody talks about how business has slowed down because of the Caldor Fire burning near the popular tourist destination of South Lake Tahoe on August 27, 2021. Concerts that would bring customers to McP's have been cancelled.
McP’s Taphouse Grill employee Breeana Cody talks about how business has slowed down because of the Caldor Fire burning near the popular tourist destination of South Lake Tahoe on August 27, 2021. Concerts that would bring customers to McP’s have been cancelled.

Cody said employees quitting has left McP’s short-staffed.

“Obviously we don’t need it because of the volume right now,” she said. “We’re not busy.”

While surrounded by imposing lakefront mansions and massive cabins, South Lake Tahoe is home to thousands of service workers. Many of them are seeing their hours cut, business owners said.

Nahani Sandoval, assistant manager at Black Bear Trading Co., a souvenir shop, said she worries about employees who are losing work.

“It’s just not enough to make ends meet,” she said.

Nahani Sandoval, Black Bear Trading Co. Asst. Manager in South Lake Tahoe, talks about the effects of the Caldor Fire burning near the popular Stateline area on August 27, 2021.
Nahani Sandoval, Black Bear Trading Co. Asst. Manager in South Lake Tahoe, talks about the effects of the Caldor Fire burning near the popular Stateline area on August 27, 2021.


Business owners near the commercial center of South Lake Tahoe said they were still optimistic the fire wouldn’t advance into main business district along Highway 50.

Andrés Delgadillo, co-owner of Los Mexicanos Mexican restaurant and Plaza Tapatia market, said he’s still holding out hope that firefighters will prevent the fire from marching into the Lake Tahoe Basin.

South Lake Tahoe business owner Andres Delgadillo expresses his thoughts on the Caldor Fire burning near South Lake Tahoe on August 27, 2021.
South Lake Tahoe business owner Andres Delgadillo expresses his thoughts on the Caldor Fire burning near South Lake Tahoe on August 27, 2021.


“But anything is possible,” Delgadillo said. “The wind could get really nasty and then all those sparks could fly and ignite.”

Delgadillo said that as a resident of South Lake Tahoe for over three decades, the smoke and fires are difficult to deal with but are a part of living in the area.

For him, the beauty of Lake Tahoe is well worth the strain of dealing with fires.

“Everything is a risk,” Delgadillo said. “You come to the East Coast where they worry about hurricanes and all that stuff. It’s just something we have to deal with anywhere we are, so we’ll live with it. I’ve been here for 35 years so I’m not going to go anywhere unless I have to.”

The smoke from the Caldor Fire burning nearby keeps tourist away at South Lake Tahoe on August 27, 2021.
The smoke from the Caldor Fire burning nearby keeps tourist away at South Lake Tahoe on August 27, 2021.

Contributing: Jorge L. Ortiz, USA TODAY; The Associated Press

“It’s Critical That The Rivers Continue to Flow.” Environmental Activist Nicole Horseherder on Reclaiming Water Rights for Native Americans

“It’s Critical That The Rivers Continue to Flow.” Environmental Activist Nicole Horseherder on Reclaiming Water Rights for Native Americans

Nicole Horseherder
Nicole Horseherder

Nicole Horseherder, executive director of Tó Nizhóní Áni Credit – Darcy Padilla.

Nicole Horseherder lives in Hard Rock, Ariz., population 53. Hard Rock sits on the Black Mesa, which takes its name from the numerous coal seams running through the plateau in western Arizona.

Horseherder’s home has no running water, as it is prohibitively expensive to drill down to the nearest aquifer that has potable water. Twice a week, she drives her 20-year-old, three-quarter-ton GMC pickup—towing a 500-gal. tank mounted on a flatbed trailer—to a community well 25 miles away.

Coal and water have dominated Horseherder’s life and work for the past decade.

Horseherder is executive director of Tó Nizhóní Ání, an advocacy group she helped form in 2000, which is dedicated to ending the “industrial use of precious water sources.” Tó Nizhóní Ání means “sacred water speaks” in Horseherder’s native Diné or Navajo. Horseherder and other activists won a tremendous victory with the 2019 decommissioning and subsequent January 2021 demolition of the Navajo Generating Station, one of the largest coal-burning plants in the West. In a related move, two coal mines, the Kayenta and Black Mesa mines, were also closed down in 2019.

Horseherder’s work has now shifted to ensuring that there are adequate funds to reclaim and restore the land. She recently testified at an oversight hearing before a U.S. House subcommittee on unfulfilled coal reclamation obligations and the need to ensure that reclamation efforts are enforced. While the amount has not been finalized, Arizona Public Service, the local power company, has proposed over $100 million to be spent on restoring land impacted by coal.

Horseherder, who grew up on the reservation, got involved in the work when she returned home after college and noticed that the watering holes where she had helped graze the family’s sheep as a young girl had dried up as the local water had been redirected to be used in coal production.

She is on the front lines of an increasingly urgent battle that will have to be played out repeatedly in coming years to ward off the most severe consequences of climate change, according to a recently released study by the U.N., which called for a “sharp reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in coming decades.” There were more than 300 coal-fired power plants in the U.S. in 2019, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Horseherder’s fight is a microcosm and a single example of the grueling effort that goes into closing a single coal mine. “It’s tremendously difficult to fight coal companies and power plants,” she says.

(This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.)

Earlier this summer, the Bureau of Land Management for the first time declared a water shortage in the Colorado River. That is your neighborhood. What was your reaction?

We knew that this was going to happen. We knew this day was coming. Fifty years have gone by, and industry has had an enormous impact: irreversible in many instances, on both groundwater and surface water. That water in the upper-basin Colorado River belongs to the Navajo people. Whatever is left has to be carefully managed and carefully used. It’s critical that the rivers continue to flow. The Southwest has a “use it or lose it” law for the water of the Colorado River, and it is very destructive. It’s the perfect example of the colonial mindset in the Southwest. That’s what’s going to destroy the population until we have a mindset change. Now more than ever, an Indigenous mindset is needed.

Can you tell me a bit more about the role water plays in your culture?

One of the teachings of water is that it has the ability to give life, and it has the ability to take life. Human beings were born from and conceived in water and grow in a womb that is filled with water. Water nourishes our development and growth. When we are born, it’s the water that breaks, and so we’re actually born through the force of water. Life springs from water. In our teaching, water was given to us, and it has specific prayers and a specific name and water has a song. There are specific songs that are just water songs. There’s a way of speaking to water and greeting water and making a relationship with water, the same way you make a relationship with your mother. Everywhere you go, you always greet water as your mother. If there’s a flowing river, that’s your mother flowing, and her body is long, and her body can wind, and her body is pure, and it glistens in the sunlight. And so, you speak to her because she’s powerful. These are the principles that we try to pass down to our children.

That’s a different mindset.

In America, you know, we are kind of encouraged to make relationships with other things. We are encouraged to have relationships with corporate executives and boardrooms and money and big houses and fast cars. In our teachings, we have to maintain relationships to the earth and to the sky to the four-leggeds and the wings and the plant life and the water and the sunlight and the air. You have to continue to maintain your responsibility to be a life among life, to be considerate of all things, to not take more than you should and to give when you can. You share this earth with every living being.

How did you get started in this work?

I came home in 1998 and noticed that there was no water here and found out that it was due to the mining, and then organized a group and gave it a name and started advocacy to shut down the industrial use of the water by the coal company [Peabody Coal]. We did everything that we could to raise awareness and compel our local leadership to end the pumping for industrial use.

After a decade of work, how did you feel when the decision was made to close the plant and coal mines?

It was a big sense of relief. The land out here and the people have endured and absorbed so much, and they have lost so much. To lose your water source is no little thing.

You are now focused on reclamation and a transition to a sustainable economy. Over $100 million has been proposed by Arizona Public Service, the utility, for a “just energy transition” for the Navajo Nation. How will that be spent?

I hope that the money is used to help all impacted communities recover. It’s not been decided yet because the money hasn’t been given yet. APS has agreed to provide those kinds of transition funds to the Navajo Nation, but the final decision still rests with the Arizona Corporation Commission.

What does sustainable energy look like in Arizona?

We’re pushing for renewable energy to replace coal. The reason I’m pushing so hard for renewable energy—and it’s not a silver bullet, it doesn’t solve all the problems; there’s a lot of problems with solar as well—the material used to make solar panels, and such, but right now it’s the most viable replacement for coal. Anything that continues to be extractive and require combustion requires an enormous amount of water, and water is just something we don’t have in the Southwest. The Indigenous people, especially the Diné people, can’t afford to give up any more water. We cannot afford to negotiate another drop of water for industry.

Based on your experience, how hard will it be to transition off coal nationwide and shut down the hundreds of coal plants still operating in this country?

It’s tremendously difficult to fight coal plants and coal mining. They have good lawyers; they can afford all the best experts in the world, and they can have these experts write their reports for them any way they want. It’s taken a toll on my health, my family. If you’re Indigenous living in America and you’re doing this work, it is tough work, and you are fighting for the lives of every single person in this country because these issues will impact everybody. If not today, it will tomorrow.

A record-breaking 44 container ships are stuck off the coast of California

A record-breaking 44 container ships are stuck off the coast of California

Ships sit off the coast of Seal Beach, CA, on Tuesday, January 26, 2021. Cargo ships enduring one of the worst U.S. port bottlenecks in more than a decade faced down another obstacle as they waited to offload near the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach
Freight ships sit off the coast of California this January. US ports have experienced some of the worst bottlenecks in more than a decade throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Brittany Murray/MediaNews Group/Long Beach Press-Telegram via Getty Images
  • 44 container ships are stuck outside CA ports, exacerbating shipping delays and high freight costs.
  • This tops the previous pandemic record of 40 ships stuck in February.
  • The ports account for about one-third of US imports, serving as a main source of trade with China.

Forty-four freight ships are stuck awaiting entry into California’s two largest ports, the highest number recorded since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Marine Exchange of Southern California reported Saturday.

The lengthy queue is a result of the labor shortage, COVID-19 related disruptions, and holiday buying surges. According to LA port data, the ships’ average wait time has increased to 7.6 days.

“The normal number of container ships at anchor is between zero and one,” Kip Louttit, executive director of the Marine Exchange of Southern California, told Insider this July.

California ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach account for about one-third of US imports. These ports operate as a primary source of imports from China and have experienced heavy congestion throughout the pandemic.

“Part of the problem is the ships are double or triple the size of the ships we were seeing 10 or 15 years ago,” Louttit told Insider. “They take longer to unload. You need more trucks, more trains, more warehouses to put the cargo.”

Read more: The Suez Canal won’t be the last supply-chain fail. Here are 4 things your small business can do to benefit from the next one.

While the container ships are forced to anchor and await berth space, companies importing and exporting goods to and from Asia expect additional shipping delays.

This comes during one of the busiest months for US-China trade relations, as retailers buy ahead in anticipation of US holidays and China’s Golden Week in October, Bloomberg reported.

“To give you a real-life example of the kinds of challenges we’re seeing, one of our dedicated charters was recently denied entry into China because a crew member tested positive for COVID, forcing the vessel to return to Indonesia and change the entire crew before continuing,” Dollar Tree’s CEO Michael Witynski said on its Thursday earnings call. “Overall, the voyage was delayed by two months.”

According to Witynski, a San Francisco-based freight forwarder said in a recent transportation webinar that “the transit times from Shanghai to Chicago had more than doubled to 73 days from 35 days.” Another carrier executive estimated “that voyages are now taking 30 days longer than in previous years due to port congestion, container handling delays, and other factors,” Insider’s Áine Cain reported.

“Industry experts expect the ocean shipping capacity will normalize no later than 2023, when many new ships come online,” Witynski said.

“Despite record levels of ships in port and at anchor and in drift areas, the Marine Transportation System in LA and LB remains safe, secure, reliable, and environmentally sound, while not being as efficient as it should be due to COVID protocols in these uncertain and unsettled times, and record levels of cargo,” the Marine Exchange of Southern California wrote in a statement.

The Taliban reportedly have control of US biometric devices – a lesson in life-and-death consequences of data privacy

The Conversation

The Taliban reportedly have control of US biometric devices – a lesson in life-and-death consequences of data privacy

Margaret Hu, Prof. of Law and of International Affairs, Penn State 
<span class="caption">A U.S. Army soldier scans the irises of an Afghan civilian in 2012 as part of an effort by the military to collect biometric information from much of the Afghan population.</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="https://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/an-american-isaf-solider-from-team-apache-of-task-force-news-photo/149781425" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Jose Cabezas/AFP via GettyImages">Jose Cabezas/AFP via GettyImages</a></span>
A U.S. Army soldier scans the irises of an Afghan civilian in 2012 as part of an effort by the military to collect biometric information from much of the Afghan population. Jose Cabezas/AFP via Getty Images.

In the wake of the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul and the ouster of the Afghan national government, alarming reports indicate that the insurgents could potentially access biometric data collected by the U.S. to track Afghans, including people who worked for U.S. and coalition forces.

Afghans who once supported the U.S. have been attempting to hide or destroy physical and digital evidence of their identities. Many Afghans fear that the identity documents and databases storing personally identifiable data could be transformed into death warrants in the hands of the Taliban.

This potential data breach underscores that data protection in zones of conflict, especially biometric data and databases that connect online activity to physical locations, can be a matter of life and death. My research and the work of journalists and privacy advocates who study biometric cyber-surveillance anticipated these data privacy and security risks.

Biometric-driven warfare

Investigative journalist Annie Jacobson documented the birth of biometric-driven warfare in Afghanistan following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, in her book “First Platoon.” The Department of Defense quickly viewed biometric data and what it called “identity dominance” as the cornerstone of multiple counterterrorism and counterinsurgency strategies. Identity dominance means being able to keep track of people the military considers a potential threat regardless of aliases, and ultimately denying organizations the ability to use anonymity to hide their activities.

By 2004, thousands of U.S. military personnel had been trained to collect biometric data to support the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. By 2007, U.S. forces were collecting biometric data primarily through mobile devices such as the Biometric Automated Toolset (BAT) and Handheld Interagency Identity Detection Equipment (HIIDE). BAT includes a laptop, fingerprint reader, iris scanner and camera. HIIDE is a single small device that incorporates a fingerprint reader, iris scanner and camera. Users of these devices can collect iris and fingerprint scans and facial photos, and match them to entries in military databases and biometric watchlists.

In addition to biometric data, the system includes biographic and contextual data such as criminal and terrorist watchlist records, enabling users to determine if an individual is flagged in the system as a suspect. Intelligence analysts can also use the system to monitor people’s movements and activities by tracking biometric data recorded by troops in the field.

By 2011, a decade after 9/11, the Department of Defense maintained approximately 4.8 million biometric records of people in Afghanistan and Iraq, with about 630,000 of the records collected using HIIDE devices. Also by that time, the U.S. Army and its military partners in the Afghan government were using biometric-enabled intelligence or biometric cyberintelligence on the battlefield to identify and track insurgents.

In 2013, the U.S. Army and Marine Corps used the Biometric Enrollment and Screening Device, which enrolled the iris scans, fingerprints and digital face photos of “persons of interest” in Afghanistan. That device was replaced by the Identity Dominance System-Marine Corps in 2017, which uses a laptop with biometric data collection sensors, known as the Secure Electronic Enrollment Kit.

Over the years, to support these military objectives, the Department of Defense aimed to create a biometric database on 80% of the Afghan population, approximately 32 million people at today’s population level. It is unclear how close the military came to this goal.

More data equals more people at risk

In addition to the use of biometric data by the U.S. and Afghan military for security purposes, the Department of Defense and the Afghan government eventually adopted the technologies for a range of day-to-day governmental uses. These included evidence for criminal prosecution, clearing Afghan workers for employment and election security.

In addition, the Afghan National ID system and voter registration databases contained sensitive data, including ethnicity data. The Afghan ID, the e-Tazkira, is an electronic identification document that includes biometric data, which increases the privacy risks posed by Taliban access to the National ID system.

A computer screen shows an enlarged image of a pair of eyes as an arm holds a boxlike object in front of the eyes of a woman wearing a headscarf and facemask
A computer screen shows an enlarged image of a pair of eyes as an arm holds a boxlike object in front of the eyes of a woman wearing a headscarf and facemask


It’s too soon after the Taliban’s return to power to know whether and to what extent the Taliban will be able to commandeer the biometric data once held by the U.S. military. One report suggested that the Taliban may not be able to access the biometric data collected through HIIDE because they lack the technical capacity to do so. However, it’s possible the Taliban could turn to longtime ally Inter-Services Intelligence, Pakistan’s intelligence agency, for help getting at the data. Like many national intelligence services, ISI likely has the necessary technology.

Another report indicated that the Taliban have already started to deploy a “biometrics machine” to conduct “house-to-house inspections” to identify former Afghan officials and security forces. This is consistent with prior Afghan news reports that described the Taliban subjecting bus passengers to biometric screening and using biometric data to target Afghan security forces for kidnapping and assassination.

Concerns about collecting biometric data

For years following 9/11, researchers, activists and policymakers raised concerns that the mass collection, storage and analysis of sensitive biometric data posed dangers to privacy rights and human rights. Reports of the Taliban potentially accessing U.S. biometric data stored by the military show that those concerns were not unfounded. They reveal potential cybersecurity vulnerabilities in the U.S. military’s biometric systems. In particular, the situation raises questions about the security of the mobile biometric data collection devices used in Afghanistan.

The data privacy and cyber-security concerns surrounding Taliban access to U.S. and former Afghan government databases are a warning for the future. In building biometric-driven warfare technologies and protocols, it appears that the U.S. Department of Defense assumed the Afghan government would have the minimum level of stability needed to protect the data.

The U.S. military should assume that any sensitive data – biometric and biographical data, wiretap data and communications, geolocation data, government records – could potentially fall into enemy hands. In addition to building robust security to protect against unauthorized access, the Pentagon should use this as an opportunity to question whether it was necessary to collect the biometric data in the first instance.

Understanding the unintended consequences of the U.S. experiment in biometric-driven warfare and biometric cyber-intelligence is critically important for determining whether and how the military should collect biometric information. In the case of Afghanistan, the biometric data that the U.S. military and the Afghan government had been using to track the Taliban could one day soon – if it’s not already – be used by the Taliban to track Afghans who supported the U.S.

Read more:

Margaret Hu is affiliated with the Future of Privacy Forum, a non-profit think tank that provides policy guidance on data privacy. Some of Hu’s research assistants receive funding from Microsoft Research. She received an honorarium for speaking at an event hosted by Microsoft Research.

Don’t Negotiate With Trump’s Disease-Spreading Zombie Army

Don’t Negotiate With Trump’s Disease-Spreading Zombie Army

Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast/Photos Getty
Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast/Photos Getty


What will it take for the American majority to stop being hijacked by the bad-faith politics of an increasingly radicalized GOP that will stop at nothing to promote death and achieve minority rule?

Most of us in this country, who have chosen life during a pandemic, are asked to coddle the unhinged temper tantrums and violent extremism of a conservative base that continues supporting the Jan. 6 violent insurrection and attacking our voting rights, and is willing to sacrifice our children as canaries in the COVID coalmine to fuel their endless culture war during a pandemic that has killed over 600,000 Americans.

Yet their elected leaders and mouthpieces, like Rep. Steve Scalise, are still treated as credible sources and normalized by being invited on news channels and by papers of record to criticize President Biden’s Afghanistan withdrawal. Rep. Dan Crenshaw, a cartoonishly hardcore Trump loyalist, and ridiculous pseudo-intellectual Ben Shapiro, whom The New York Times once referred to as “the cool kid’s philosopher” and whose Daily Wire is hugely influential in pushing vaccine misinformation on Facebook, still get coveted platforms in Politico.

Welcome to the Upside Down. Democracy might not survive, but the ratings will be great as the GOP base has become so unhinged and radicalized on a feed bag of disinformation to the point that Crenshaw, a slavish MAGA man, got heckled for refusing to say the election was stolen. Even Trump, their god-king, was booed by his adoring cult at a recent rally in Alabama. Did he praise Muslims? Hug an undocumented immigrant? Compliment Obama? Nope. He simply gently recommended that they take a life-saving vaccine, like he did, that will protect them from suffering a tragic, unnecessary death.

The GOP’s New Heroes Are All Killers, Kooks, and Creeps

You can’t “win over” these folks anymore. They are too far over the bend to get brought back around by Hillbilly Elegies, FDA vaccine approvals, sympathetic profiles of voters in rust belt diners, or town halls with undecided voters. Facts, common sense, and good-naturedness will not sway their fragile, terrified hearts.

Enough coddling. It’s time to say enough is enough.

Thankfully, Democrats are flexing their slim congressional majorities—a result of Republican gerrymandering—and trying to push back. The 13-person House panel selected to investigate the Jan. 6 riot announced Wednesday that it’s requesting communications from within the Trump White House and other agencies to determine information about the planning and funding of the Jan. 6 insurrection that left five people dead. This includes asking telecommunication companies to preserve phone records of congressmen to ascertain what, if anything, they knew about the unfolding riots and when.

Republicans like GOP House “leader” Kevin McCarthy have already dismissed the investigation as a political witch hunt. I mean I also would be dismissive of an investigation that would potentially incriminate myself. After all, McCarthy has already admitted he was in touch with Trump from inside the Capitol on the day of the insurrection, and Rep. Jordan has also acknowledged he was in conversation with Trump. Even though a recent report said the FBI found “scant evidence” that the insurrection was a result of an “organized plot,” one of the main organizers of the “Stop the Steal” rally, conservative activist Ali Alexander, has claimed he worked in tandem with three GOP lawmakers. “We four schemed up of putting maximum pressure on Congress while they were voting,” Alexander confessed in a since-deleted video, pointing to Reps. Andy Biggs, Mo Brooks and Paul Gosar.

This Trump Wannabe Just Might Be the Worst of the Rotten Bunch

When he isn’t busy giving keynote speeches at white nationalist rallies and tweeting white supremacist talking points, Gosar is busy accusing Capitol police of “lying in wait’” to “execute” Ashli Babbitt, a radicalized insurrectionist who was transformed after her death into a “martyr” by Trump and the GOP. “I know that day I saved countless lives,” veteran officer Lt. Michael Byrd said in an interview with Lester Holt on NBC Nightly News finally revealing his identity after enduring months of racist hate and death threats. Thankfully, Officer Byrd was just internally cleared by his department for any wrongdoing, but that didn’t stop Tucker Carlson and Russian state TV from weaponizing his Blackness and attacking him and alleging that he “executed” Babbitt.

Meanwhile, Brooks had more to say in support of the failed terrorist and Trump voter who streamed his pathetic attempt to blow up the Library of Congress last week than he did about Officer Brian Sicknick, who died trying to protect the Capitol. Recently, Brooks confirmed he was wearing body armor during his Jan. 6 speech to the Trump supporters who would later overrun the nation’s Capitol.

“Should I wear a striped tie? Cuff links? Bow tie? Body armor?” is a totally normal, daily sartorial debate for elected officials. Meanwhile, his colleagues who didn’t get the memo and were barricaded, protected by Capitol Hill officers, fearing for their lives.

Those include Rep. Andrew Clyde, a hypocrite whose commitment to his extremist base and their attack on our democracy is so great that he tried to gaslight the world by claiming afterward that the riot was a “normal tourist visit.” In reality, new reports reveal that the Secret Service warned Capitol Police about violent threats a day before the insurrection, but due to intelligence lapses did not prepare for a large-scale assault.

Meanwhile, the same 21 GOP officials who’ve attacked the Squad for supporting “defund the police,” voted against awarding congressional medals to the Capitol Police officers who saved their lives. Along with Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene, some of these congressmen are holding rallies in support of the individuals who were arrested for their part in the insurrection.

It’s not surprising any more to hear white supremacist conspiracy theories parroted by GOP elected officials and mainstreamed by Fox News hosts, or domestic terror threats like QAnon embraced by former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and tolerated by Kevin McCarthy.

But it is still shocking, and should be a big news story, to hear these pols embrace a lunatic conspiracy that just radicalized a young father who speared his two daughters to death because he was convinced his wife “possessed serpent DNA and had passed it onto his children.”

These radicalized Republicans fighting to maintain minority rule do so in no small part thanks to the aid and comfort provided by “moderate” Democrats like Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin. Even though the House just passed the John Lewis Voting Rights Act to strengthen federal oversight of state election laws, it has no chance of passing thanks to Senate Republicans who will filibuster it to death. And instead of voting to kill the filibuster, an archaic instrument of Jim Crow, these Democrats will instead maintain the fiction of “bipartisanship” with colleagues who are actively supporting a radicalized cult that supported a violent coup that could have killed them.

Why Trump Is Anointing Ashli Babbitt as MAGA’s First Martyr

If there’s a silver lining to these dark clouds, perhaps it’s that death and economic pain are great motivators for the majority to wake up and say “enough” to the right wing’s multi-pronged culture war. With the FDA approval of the Pfizer vaccine, government agencies and private entities are moving forward with vaccine mandates. Meanwhile, these enraged zombies for white supremacy are now assaulting and harassing doctors who are simply providing health guidelines at town halls, bullying our teachers and school boards, fighting mask mandates, resisting vaccine mandates and doing everything to combat the overwhelming majority—nearly 70 percent of us—who have decided to choose life.

Delta Air Lines said it will begin charging unvaccinated workers $200 per month, citing steep hospital bills for their unvaccinated employees who got COVID-19. Tyson is now requiring all of its U.S. employees to be vaccinated by Nov. 1, even as thousands are employed in Arkansas, which just ran out of ICU beds.

It’s too late to convince people determined to believe otherwise that the pandemic is real, deadly, and requires them to wear masks and take vaccines. It’s been nearly two years. We could have reopened safely by now, saved thousands of lives, and protected our front-line workers if we simply followed social distancing and masking.

Instead, a radicalized minority enabled by demagogic governors continues to choose death, which Republicans are trying, insanely, to rebrand as “freedom.”

To quote Batman Begins, “I won’t kill you, but I don’t have to save you.” That minority may have a right to choose death, but they certainly don’t have a right to infect us with their virus by coming to work, to sporting events and into our children’s schools.

Also, it’s encouraging to see U.S. Capitol Police officers fight back against Republicans who are trying to gaslight the Jan. 6 insurrection. Seven officers are now suing Trump and those who organized the Stop the Steal riot that killed five people and injured more than 140 officers.

We are the majority. We have the numbers. However, it’s not enough for the rest of us to be complacent and simply acknowledge the multiple threats to our democracy. It’s time to flex and fight back on all fronts to save lives and our democracy from a conservative hate machine willing to attack truth, science, safety, and democracy in its desperate, violent attempt to preserve white rule.

A Cow Was Spotted Waiting in the Drive-through Line at a Wisconsin McDonald’s

A Cow Was Spotted Waiting in the Drive-through Line at a Wisconsin McDonald’s


Jessica Nelson was waiting in the McDonald’s drive-through line in Marshfield, Wisconsin, last Thursday when she realized there was something unusual about a fellow customer a few cars ahead of her: a cow in the back seat.

That’s when she took out her camera phone to capture the scene, which she posted on Facebook with the caption: “A WHOLE FREAKING COW!!! Tell me you live in Wisconsin without telling me you live in Wisconsin.”

“I thought it was fake at first. Who puts a cow in a Buick?” she told the Associated Press. After all, what would a cow be doing at a fast-food restaurant known for its beef burgers.

She was even more surprised when she saw the mammal move its head. “I realized it was 100 percent real,” she said, according to the Green Bay Press-Gazette. “No one seemed to be as interested as I was. I was the only one with my phone out.”

Her video quickly went viral, as she woke up the next morning to 52,000 views and more than 2,000 shares, she said in a follow-up post. She also wrote: “All because an old man drove thru [sic] McDonald’s with a cutie cow. I wish I was able to give him all the credit — I just shot the video.”

The Mosinee resident told the AP that the cow’s owner later reached out to her and explained that he had just bought the animal at an auction — and that it was actually a calf. In fact, there were two other calves along with the one she spotted. “There were three calves total in the back seat!” she told the Green Bay Press-Gazette.

Since the original video was posted on Aug. 26, it has gotten over 249,000 views.